SOUTHPORT, England - Mark O’Meara’s role at this year’s British Open isn’t just as a former champion. The 1998 winner at Royal Birkdale is also Tiger Woods’s proxy, the go-to guy for information on his close buddy.
After an opening round 74, O’Meara was asked a perfunctory question about the weather (Subject No. 2 this week) before the talk turned to Woods (Subject No. 1, even in absentia). O’Meara said he got a text from Woods telling him to “go out and kick some butt,” but O’Meara said he was having a hard enough time “trying not to get my butt kicked.”
According to O'Meara. Woods is watching the Open from his Orlando home as he recovers from knee surgery.
“Oh yeah, he loves golf,” O’Meara said. “He wanted to be here so bad. I remember winning the Open in ’98 and flying back with him on his plane. He wanted to see the Claret Jug. He wanted to get his hands on it because he was one shot out of the playoff. Now he’s done it three times."
O’Meara said that his social life during Open week isn’t much different with Woods not here, for reasons that will sound familiar to most guys in their 30s and 40s. “Once Tiger got married, we don’t really hang out as much — I mean, we don’t stay together as much,” O’Meara said. “Before he was married we did that all the time, and it was great. Over the last four or five years that hasn’t been the case. I kind of miss him.”